Smokey Robinson headlines at BBC Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park
It is always a sight to behold when a living music legend plays a show – and as one of the founding fathers of the motown genre, Smokey Robinson is nothing short of a true musical icon. The final festival of the summer was held in Hyde Park yesterday as part of BBC Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park, and Smokey Robinson was the guest of honour.
The career that spans over 55 years started humbly in Detroit in the mid-1950s when Smokey and childhood friend Ronald White met Pete Moore, and formed The Miracles. Even as part of the band, Smokey wowed the labels with his silky voice and songwriting abilities, and has written many of the great motown hits such as My Girl (performed by The Temptations) and Ain’t that Particular for Marvin Gaye. His band was successful in its own right, especially with Tears of a Clown and Going to a Go Go. Fast-forward 10 years and he was a solo act, releasing a number of hits – most notably Smokey in 1973 and One Heartbeat in 1987.
At Hyde Park his star shines bright and he opens with Going to a Go Go, full of energy as he grooves to the jazzy beats. His voice is strong and his range is unfaltering as he powers through the hit. The singer chats to the crowd casually, speaking about his influences and how glad he is to be back in London. He then goes into You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me, the melody slower and softer but his passion no less fiery, and he finishes the song strong, riding out the last note beautifully. The tempo slows right down for Ooo Baby Baby, then picks up again for Tears of a Clown, where he brings on backup dancers and gives them a run for their money.
With the longest set of the one-day festival, he fills the hour with a wonderful blend of The Miracles’ songs as well as the other well-known tunes he’s written for major acts like Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. A true performer, Smokey is not outshone, and Tracks of My Tears reveals he is clearly still in “showbiz” purely for the love of it. He finishes with Cruisin’ where he enlists the crowd to act as backup singers. It’s amazing to see this incredible artist create a soulful and intimate moment with thousands of people.
It goes without saying, Smokey Robinson is timeless and his music lives on through the artists it inspires today. What an absolute treat he is to watch. London hopes to see him again soon.
Photos: BBC Radio 2
Watch the video for Cruisin’ here: